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Remember what I said about this being my year of self-love? Well, high confidence is a big part of self-love. Sure, it’s good to see the positive qualities present in other people, but don’t forget about beautiful ol’ you! You’re amazing too.
Seriously, there’s no better feeling than gazing into the mirror and smiling, truly smiling, at your physical and emotional vibrance. Do it every morning. Who cares about whether or not others think you’re arrogant. Confidence feels wonderful.
Now how does solo travel fit into this picture? Well. Setting out on a journey improves your confidence a thousand times over.
You’re an explorer and scholar, and you’ve resolved to see the world on your own terms. I cannot think of anything more inspiring than booking a solo trip. I know my own confidence is much higher than ten years ago, for sure.
However, it’s important to remember that solo travel isn’t a requirement for you to be a mentally happy and confident person now, here, today. Self-love has to flow through your daily life in your apartment and workplace. Why? Because you need to understand you’re worthy enough now to achieve great things.
But back to solo travel.
Here are six ways your wanderlust will supercharge your confidence and change your life for the better. Let the self-love flow, my globetrotting friends.
1. Fears Aren’t Rooted in Reality.
By traveling, you realize that your fears aren’t strong enough to hold you back from achieving your dreams. Awesome, right?
Solo travel has helped my own anxiety. For example, with every single flight I complete, the more I realize my fears of turbulence are illogical and that I’m strong enough to endure a bit of discomfort if it means a great reward awaits me at the end of the metaphorical tunnel. It’s remarkable I fly so much regardless of the sweaty palms and knots in my stomach. One day, I even want to survive a plane ride all the way to Australia. It’s a big goal but I know I can accomplish it!
So don’t “play it safe.” Sure, solo travel is incredible, but you need to go a step beyond it. Your confidence will soar even more if you decide to face fears on your solo trip.
For instance, are you scared of sharks? Then sign up for a snorkeling tour in tropical waters. Does trying new food make you weak in the knees? Then join a food tour and eat something unusual. Terrified of heights? Climb a bell tower and gaze at the sky. Or try canyoneering in a beautiful national park like Zion. The possibilities are endless.
Be brave. Tough.
I understand releasing your anxiety is a major mental challenge. Truthfully, it takes a lot of courage to face your fears. Many people don’t rise against these dark shadows, which plague the recesses of our minds, because it’s easier to stick with what’s comfortable.
However, great personal transformation happens when we break away from comfort and into the arms of the unknown, the new, the different.
By conquering your anxiety, especially on your travels, you will not only inspire friends and family, but you’ll develop a deep sense of unshakable confidence. Rock on, warrior!
2. Independence is a Virtue.
Co-dependency isn’t an attractive trait. No one likes a person who needs constant external validation. Especially in America, independence is considered a highly admirable trait. We’re expected to move out at eighteen. In love, we’re told “the person who cares the least” holds all the power in romantic relationships. In our careers, we’re expected to step on our co-workers to earn that coveted promotion. Sounds exhausting, huh?
Yet, despite society’s disgust at co-dependency, doing things alone is also viewed as taboo. Talk about mixed messages! But it’s the truth.
I mean. Think of how many people are nervous about going to a movie or meal alone, because they’re worried of appearing like a loser who has no friends. It’s ridiculous.
By bunking the norm and traveling solo, your confidence will explode and improve your self-image tenfold. Your friends’ inflexible schedules and partner’s reluctance aren’t enough to stop your global explorations. You grab what you want in life, without harming another person, and that’s attractive.
Finally, while you’re in a faraway city, you realize you’ve the power to create an exciting existence … without the help of anyone.
Some amazing activities to do alone when you travel include:
- Eating a meal. Argh, one of my greatest fears, but I actually ate lunch alone at a small cafe in Madrid. And you know what? As I devoured my salmon outside, no one said a word to me. No one stared. No one questioned my solo-ness. Eating alone was fine. You can do it too. The food even tastes better.
- Exploring an art museum. Listen to an audio guide and study the paintings, think long and hard about the human condition. Learn. Art museums are the best when visited alone.
- Hiking in nature. You’ll experience peace when you’re alone in nature. The Romantic Writers loved the wilderness for a very good reason. Go into the woods and take a solo walk.
- Going on a walking tour. You’ll learn a lot about your new destination. Plus you’ll probably make new friends on the tour. It’s a win-win situation.
3. Problem-solving? No Problem!
I’m one impatient and angry chick when it comes to solving mundane problems. I’ll admit it here. I skim through courses and audiobooks, and don’t understand why nothing improves. I wrinkle my nose at creating a spreadsheet for a budget. I want immediate solutions for minimal effort. Haha, bad, I know. I think the chronic impatience is a New Jersey characteristic, but still, I know that’s not a great excuse, haha.
Solo travel forces you to critically think and solve snafus, preferably without losing your temper in the process. If you don’t watch out for yourself, you’ll end up in a heap of trouble so you need to sharpen those critical thinking skills fast.
Truthfully, when you only rely on yourself, you must keep a cool head to navigate public transportation, language barriers, travel documents, and everything else. And you’ll be proud. You’ll learn you’re more self-reliant than you’ve ever given yourself credit for.
Your rewards will pay off at home too.
As a stronger problem solver, you’re less likely to freak out at life’s small annoyances such as an unforgiving boss or inconsiderate roommate.
4. Bodies are Strong and Tough and Amazing.
Argh, us women are terrible about loving our figures, mostly thanks to crazy high beauty standards and ingrained sexism. You need to give your body more credit. It’s an incredible machine.
Sure, healthy living is very important, but don’t use health as an excuse to demean yourself. You wouldn’t mock a sick person. So why taunt yourself for carrying a few extra pounds? Not cool.
Solo travel provides a chance for you to understand just how tough your body is. For example, I’m not an Olympic athlete. Far from it, actually. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my abs once.
However, I have hiked mountains in Canada and Slovenia. I’ve walked over 13 miles in one day in Austin. I’ve ridden bikes and kayaked in scenic Sweden. I’ve climbed hundreds of stairs to the top of many bell towers in several European cities and towns. Sure, if I was in better shape, I’d feel more comfortable on adventure trips, but regardless, my body is still capable of some amazing accomplishments.
Drum roll, please.
And, for the love of god, think of all your amazing solo travel feats when you’re mentally calling yourself fat or ugly. You wouldn’t say such horrible things to your mom or best friend, so why is it okay to say them to yourself? It isn’t.
5. You are Beautiful.
Okay, you should always express self-love in your daily life at home, not only when you travel. A big challenge, especially for women, is the tendency to get down not just on our bodies, but our beauty. Our makeup, hair, lip shape, eye color, nail beds. The list goes on and on and on.
I mean, could you imagine how much the beauty industry would financially crumble if women woke up one day and decided their natural looks were just fine and needed no tweaking? Yeeeeouch.
By traveling, you witness many different standards of beauty, and you’ll suddenly feel liberated knowing that beauty is subjective, truly belonging in the “eye of the beholder.”
It’s also refreshing waking up in a hostel, with messy hair and no make up, and seeing lots of other women in the same situation! And no one cares! There’s zero pressure to look perfect at all times, and the feeling is very liberating.
And, uhm, time for a more shallow note. On every single trip, I’ve had charming foreign men tell me I was pretty. Come on. If that’s not a confidence builder, than I don’t know what is.
So work it.
6. Knowledge is Powerful.
You learn a great deal about politics, history, culture, religion, sociology, economics, and so much more when you go on solo travels around the world.
In traveling, you transform into a better global citizen, which builds a deep level of confidence.
When you come home, people will be interested in the social workings of another country. You take on the role of a teacher. For example, I taught many family members and friends about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Even though it was recent history, I didn’t know much prior to my trip, and loved the chance to share my newfound knowledge with others.
Additionally, travel teaches you to be more tolerate and loving of different people and customs. Learning that most people just want happiness and health for themselves and their families makes you realize we are more similar than different.
What do I do with all this Confidence?
As I’ve said many (many) times throughout this post, don’t only embrace your confidence and self-worth when you’re in the midst of traveling. Otherwise your confidence won’t grow.
Instead make every single day abundant with empowering thoughts directed at yourself. Act confident at work, at home, on the town, even when you don’t necessarily feel it.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your confidence strong:
- Do something new that scares you. As an example, I was scared to start kickboxing. I wondered if I would look stupid and not be able to keep up. Yet I discovered a tremendous place that helped me through heartbreak and encouraged me to embrace my body. So find a gym or activity that pushes you to the limit.
- Smile at a stranger. You’ll be surprised at how many thoughtful conversations spark out of a smile.
- Do a spontaneous local getaways – alone if you have to. Don’t underestimate the awesomeness of local getaways. Take your newfound courage and roam in your own backyard. I promise you’ll find something special.
Keep shining, traveler.
How has travel improved your confidence? Share your results in the comments.